DUBAI: The United International Baseball League, the first-ever professional baseball league created to serve India, Pakistan, and the Middle East, on Wednesday expanded its sports marketing and brand sponsorship infrastructure by purchasing a stake in BSB Sports.
Founded by veteran entrepreneur, brand builder, and agent, Kash Shaikh, BSB Sports is one of the fastest-growing sports marketing firms in the US, with athlete relationships spanning baseball, basketball, football, mixed martial arts, and collegiate athletics.
The strategic investment involves Shaikh, who has built two agencies over the last five years – BSB Sports and BSB Group International – joining the UIBL ownership group as its president and chief marketing officer, splitting his time between Cincinnati, New York, and Dubai.
League founder, chairman, and chief executive officer, Kanwal Sra, said: “I’m very grateful to be able to bring someone of Kash’s stature, experience, and values on board. From the moment we met, I could feel his passion and sense his drive.
“Kash has a truly unique skill set, including his sports marketing background, international experience, and leadership roles on both the client and agency side, as well as within startup and entrepreneurial companies.
“But, most importantly, his deep belief in our vision made him the ideal person to help lead our league.”
Shaikh will remain as chairman at BSB Group International, focusing his work on the firm’s largest and most long-term clients. BSB Group International will also serve as the US-based agency of record for the UIBL. Shaikh will also continue to serve as CEO of BSB Sports, with its baseball infrastructure, relationships, and intellectual property shifting under the UIBL.
BSB Sports will retain its own branding and streamline its focus to college athletics, continuing to leverage the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s new name, image, and likeness policy to connect athletes with brands. BSB Sports represents more than 300 college athletes across nearly two-dozen states.
Shaikh said: “This is a dream job, led by inspiring leaders. Beginning with Kanwal, the visionary behind this work, the team of builders that have joined forces to do something special is really incredible.
“For me personally, the UIBL brings together so many of my passions, including entrepreneurship, sports, and international business.
“We have an opportunity to build a sports league from the ground up in a part of the world that’s very meaningful to me. It’s not going to be easy, but nothing of value ever is. I believe our team is ready for the challenge. I’m so grateful to Kanwal, Barry Larkin (American former baseball player), and the team for trusting me with this opportunity,” he added.
Shaikh was initially connected to Sra via Larkin, who began working with the UIBL due to his decades-long experience in international player development. Shaikh has represented Larkin as his business and brand-building agent for the last two years and will continue to do so in his new role.
Terms of the agreement were not disclosed, but Sra said that the investment was a mix of both cash and stock. UIBL players will now have access to industry leading marketing representation as they begin to build their brands and expand their followings in a completely untapped market.
Shaikh said: “We’re excited to introduce our athletes to an entirely new fanbase. India, Pakistan, and the Middle East are home to more than 2 billion people, and 1 billion of them are cricket fans – another bat and ball sport.
“With the UIBL, we have an opportunity to not only help these fans fall in love with America’s pastime, but we have a chance to help baseball players become stars in a region that loves their heroes.”